Announcing LightSwitch in Visual Studio 2013 Preview

Fresh off the back of our recent April release of the LightSwitch HTML Client in VS2012 Update 2, the team is proud to follow up with more incremental value with the availability of Visual Studio 2013 Preview announced this week.

For starters, all the goodness we released in VS2012 Update 2 is now part of Visual Studio 2013 Preview.  This means you can:

  1. Build cross-browser, mobile-first web apps that can run on any modern touch device.
  2. Publish your apps to a SharePoint app catalog.

In addition, there are two new key areas of improvement in LightSwitch in Visual Studio 2013 Preview:

  1. Enhanced project navigation.
  2. Improved team development.

Enhanced Project Navigation

We’ve received quite a lot of feedback that working with the assets in your projects really slowed down common tasks.  In Visual Studio 2013 Preview, you no longer need to switch between Logical View and File View because all your project content is available under one view in Solution Explorer.  So in addition to managing screens, tables, and queries, you can add a NuGet package, update CSS and images, and manage project references while writing code all under one view.

Here’s a screenshot of the consolidated view in Solution Explorer:


We’ve also made LightSwitch projects work more seamlessly with the IDE, so using the scoping, search, and browse history features are all now available in your LightSwitch projects.  You can also directly navigate to related screens, tables, or queries from any LightSwitch designer’s command bar.



In addition, you can view multiple designers at the same time. Each screen, table, and query is now opened in its own document tab. You can dock designers side by side, or move a designer tab to a 2nd monitor, allowing you to work with multiple assets simultaneously without flipping back and forth.


Improved Team Development

As momentum for building business apps for organizations using LightSwitch has grown, a recurring feedback theme we’ve heard is the need for LightSwitch to work better in team development scenarios.  This is an area you can expect to see us continue investing in – one particular pain point we’re addressing now is working better with source code control.  The primary issue here is that LightSwitch designers persist screen/entity/query information all in one of 2 model files.  In practical terms, this means it is far too easy for multiple developers working on the same project to introduce XML merge conflicts, which in turn are difficult and error prone to reconcile.

In Visual Studio 2013 Preview, we divided key assets into smaller, more manageable chunks – looking back at the first screenshot in this blog, you’ll notice that each entity, screen, and query is now persisted in its own .lsml model file.  The result is dramatically reduced likelihood of merge conflicts when multiple developers work on the same project in conjunction with a source code control system. Plus, we’ve also improved compatibility with existing source code control providers.

And More…

There are more features and improvements in this Preview release! More details will be available in forthcoming blog posts. To name a few:

  • Intrinsic database management with linked database project, providing the ability to generate reference data and make schema enhancements.
  • Improved JavaScript IntelliSense, as well as notable improvements to the core JavaScript experience such as code editor and DOM Explorer enhancements (more info here).
  • API support for refreshing data on lists and screens in the runtime app.
  • Integration with other Visual Studio features, such as Team Build and Code Analysis.
  • Fixes for many issues you reported on the forums.

Sneak Peek into the Future

At this point, I’d like to shift focus and provide a glimpse of a key part of our future roadmap. During this morning’s Build 2013 Day 2 keynote in San Francisco, an early preview was provided into how Visual Studio will enable the next generation of line-of-business applications in the cloud (you can check out the recording via Channel 9). A sample app was built during the keynote that highlighted some of the capabilities of what it means to be a modern business application; applications that run in the cloud, that are available to a myriad of devices, that aggregate data and services from in and out of an enterprise, that integrate user identities and social graphs, that are powered by a breadth of collaboration capabilities, and that continuously integrate with operations.

Folks familiar with LightSwitch will quickly notice that the demo was deeply anchored in LightSwitch’s unique RAD experience and took advantage of the rich platform capabilities exposed by Windows Azure and Office 365. We believe this platform+tools combination will take productivity to a whole new level and will best help developers meet the rising challenges and expectations for building and managing modern business applications. If you’re using LightSwitch today, you will be well positioned to take advantage of these future enhancements and leverage your existing skills to quickly create the next generation of business applications across Office 365 and Windows Azure. You can read more about this on Soma’s blog.

Download Visual Studio 2013 Preview

So the best way into the future is to download Visual Studio 2013 Preview today — and tell us what you think! If you already have a LightSwitch project created with Visual Studio 2012 (including Update 1 and 2), you will be able to upgrade your project to Visual Studio 2013 Preview.  We will also provide an upgrade path from the Preview to final release of Visual Studio 2013.  Please use the LightSwitch forum to post your feedback and check this blog for in-depth articles as they become available.

Thank you for your support and feedback to help us ship a rock solid Visual Studio 2013!

– LightSwitch Team